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Korea toughens rules on Japan food

Seoul will call for the Japanese government to provide a safety certificate for food products manufactured from 13 regions near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Korea Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The measure will be put into practice in May, officials said.

The affected regions, including Tokyo and the prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Saitama, Kanagawa and Shizuoka, were selected because imported spinach from the regions was found to have radioactive contamination. 
Five fresh tuna are hooked after arriving at Shiogama port, Miygagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap News)
Five fresh tuna are hooked after arriving at Shiogama port, Miygagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap News)

The local governments must certify that the foods produced from the regions to be imported into Korea haven’t been exposed to iodine, cesium and other radioactive substances. The Korean dealers should submit the certificate to the Korean authorities.

The government will examine all products from the regions at quarantine and should radioactive isotopes of iodine or cesium be detected, the Japanese local governments will have to submit additional guarantees on plutonium and strontium.

The KFDA currently bans imports of all vegetables and edible herbs from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures.

“The 13 regions are within 250 kilometers of the wrecked nuclear power plant and some of their products have been detected with damaging materials,” Sohn Mun-ki, a KFDA official, said. “The regulation may hinder the distribution of Japanese imported foods,” he added.

The food agency is planning to demand another 34 local governments of Japan to guarantee the safety of food.

It also established an acceptable level of iodine in food for infants or children at 100 Becquerel per kilogram. Currently, the criterion for cesium is set at 370 Becquerel per kilogram for all foods but iodine management was relatively loose.

“We understand the public anxiety over food safety,” Sohn said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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